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Date of Issue: May 10, 2007

County clears pepper trees at Holmes Beach gateway

kingfish pic
kingfish pic
Manatee County crews removed non-native trees from the south side of Manatee Avenue near the Kingfish Boat Ramp and will next move to the north side of the road. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A Manatee County conservation crew cleared Brazilian pepper trees near the gateway to Holmes Beach last week.

The work was part of an effort to remove non-native trees and bring back mangroves along the Palma Sola Causeway and Manatee Avenue, said Keith Bettcher, administrator for the Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Department.

The work also is part of an effort to improve appearances and operations at the Kingfish Boat Ramp in unincorporated Manatee County near the Holmes Beach city limit.

After the removal of the Brazilian pepper trees on the south side of Manatee between the bridge and East Bay Drive, the county crew plans to begin clearing some trees on the north side at Kingfish.

The north side work involves removing trees from the bridge to Westbay Cove condominiums, where property owners are keeping watch over the activity.

Westbay property owners and residents, along with Holmes Beach officials, were instrumental in encouraging the county to amend its original plans for Kingfish.

Eventually, the county hopes to build rest rooms at the eastern edge of the boat ramp, create some buffers between the road and the parking lot and channel traffic through an entrance and exit at the ramp.

On the east side of the bridge along the causeway, the county plans to continue to remove Brazilian pepper trees and other non-native plants.

Early March 27, as a county worker cut into a tree, several passersby took notice of the clearing that took place the day before.

"I think it's a nice project and I like to see our government taking care of our environment, not deeding it over for development," said Katie Merriwhether, of Perico Island.

"There's an old saying that ‘he can't see the forest for the trees,'" said Paul Friedman, a boater from Longboat Key. "I think we're starting to see the big picture here. To preserve and conserve sometimes you have to have change."

But Mary Whitfield, a jogger who passed by the work site, seemed concerned about the project. "I'm no expert but I have to imagine that some kind of critters have made their home in there and I hope they've been considered."